Project bank account compliance

New laws

On 1 March 2021, project bank accounts were replaced with a new streamlined trust account framework. Read about the new trust account framework.

The following information only applies to project bank accounts for certain government contracts with tenders released between 1 March 2018 and 28 February 2021.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) regulates the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (BIF Act), which establishes Project Bank Account (PBA) requirements. Penalties apply for non-compliance.

The BIF Act imposes requirements on the head contractor, who is trustee for the PBA. It also provides the principal with viewing rights over the PBA and requires the principal to report certain non-compliance to the QBCC.

The principal plays a significant role in monitoring the use of PBAs and reporting any non-compliance.

Read more in the Principals guidelines (PDF, 1.1MB).

Principal obligations

The principal has oversight of:

  • deposits into, and withdrawals from, the PBA
  • information relevant to payment instructions, including the account name and numbers
  • account payment reports detailing deposits into, and withdrawals from, PBAs

The principal has to take certain actions under the BIF Act in relation to PBA. This includes:

  • reporting payment discrepancies in a payment instruction to the QBCC, including payments to non-subcontractor beneficiaries
  • informing the QBCC about subcontractors that are related entities for the head contractor, where known.

Principal's viewing access

The PBA trust accounts must allow the contract's principal (or their agent or employee) electronic viewing access to:

  • detailed transaction information on all individual deposits and withdrawals for the PBAs, including financial institution and account details, dates and payment amounts etc (this includes payment instruction information relating to retention and disputed funds accounts)
  • account payment reports detailing deposits into, and withdrawals from, PBAs.

The principal must be able to view the above information until the accounts are closed.

This access allows the contract principal to monitor the accounts to ensure that subcontractors are being paid in accordance with the BIF Act.

Principals must report certain payment discrepancies to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, but don't have a role in authorising payments made through PBAs.

Principal 'step in' powers

In certain circumstances, including contract termination or head contractor insolvency, the principal may decide to assume the role of trustee to a project bank account.

If this occurs, the head contractor must inform the banking institution that the principal will act as trustee of the PBA.

Some important points to note:

  • The PBA doesn't alter the contractual rights and responsibilities of contractors.
  • The PBA doesn't remove the rights of subcontractors to seek adjudication or commence legal action if in dispute.


General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)